August 1, 2011

Wherein Our Gentle Hero Unearths a Dinosaur

Posted in Look tagged , , , at 2:52 am by onetinyacorn

Oh, yeah. I got to help dig up a Tyrannosaurus Rex over the July 4th weekend.

I found out about this amazing opportunity from a good friend of a good friend. He’s a paleontologist who just happened upon some vertebrae bones from a T Rex poking above ground while surveying the land (the ranch where this dino met his doom allows the paleontologist to scour the area, looking for such things). A team of scientists and volunteers was assembled, and we made our way out into the middle of nowhere. This ranch was at the end of an hour-long drive down dirt trails with ruts worn into the earth from the passage of vehicles. We arrived at night, after being held up by an owl that stopped in front of our car for a few minutes, stared at us, and took flight again with an impressive wingspan. The dead silence, incredible view of the stars, and scent of sage in the cool breeze that met us were a welcome retreat. I stayed up really late watching the lightening flash off in the distance at regular intervals, too far away to ever reach us.

Turns out this is a Thing that people can do—some of the women at the dig site had met in the Gobi desert on a different dig. They’ve been traveling around for years, going from site to site as volunteers. Most had backgrounds in science, although we were next to another archivist. She interviewed us for an oral history project, so look forward to hearing my caffiene-less ramblings sometime in the future (yep, she’s digitizing everything).

All of that dirt was removed by hand. They estimate that 200 tons were removed by the time the dig was finished.

The site was partitioned into squares approximately 2 feet x 2 feet. I was given an awl with which to dig through my designated square of mudrock (hard stuff, that), and a tutorial on what it sounds like when you hit a bone.

I found…a seed. But it was a prehistoric seed! Still cool. I was in a corner with lots of plants—the aforementioned archivist kept finding great examples of palm fronds and petrified plant stems.

The woman on the other side of me found part of a tendon. Tiny thing—like a slightly flattened drinking straw, with a porous texture inside. We were searching for the skull and tail of the TRex. Where could they possibly have gone, you ask? I was wondering that too. Well, the torso was at the top of a slope, and the geologist explained that there was water flowing nearby. So the skull might have been washed away over time. The scientists on the team were plastering the torso of the TRex, and on one nerve-wracking afternoon, they used heavy machinery to flip it over. They are hoping to find skin impressions, and will find a less weathered side of the skeleton.

Here’s what the plastering process looked like:

While at the site, they found another pile of dinosaur bones. Finding the TRex was a huge deal—only the 7th one found in Wyoming in 125 years. Paleontologists are apparently a little more blasé about triceratops—their bones are found all over here. They pointed out the vascular system which was revealed in the carved-out conduits of the bones. Note the slightly elongated spongy texture of the bone—rocks don’t have those.

After 9 hours or so of digging—with plenty of breaks—it was time to call it quits. Chef Jodie provided some delicious food, and we hung out as daylight receded and fatigue caught up with us.

For more info, check out the Official Blog of the dig:

If you get the chance to do something like this, I heartily recommend it! I met lots of nice people, and learned a ton in just the short time that I participated. I look forward to doing this sort of thing again.


January 31, 2011


Posted in Look tagged , , , at 5:44 am by onetinyacorn

A 5-minute drive to the edge of town will bring you to scenery that feels like the edge of the world. Sweeping plains, pale yellow grasses, and snow swirling against a backdrop of mountains make me feel like I’m the only survivor in some kind of Apocalyptic Arctic adventure (if that’s not already a literary genre, it should be. And penguins should factor in heavily).

The color combination of Naples yellow grass and cerulean sky is one of my favorites.

January 26, 2011

Creepy Dolls

Posted in Look tagged , , , , at 6:05 am by onetinyacorn

Fun fact: Casper, with a population of ~53,500 people, is Wyoming’s second-biggest town. Cheyenne, with ~57,600 people is the state’s most populous location.

What Casper did have was unintentionally creepy-looking dolls, and a Superman car. To wit:

November 5, 2010

Introducing: Ember!

Posted in Look tagged , , , , , at 1:33 pm by onetinyacorn

With some trepidation, we visited the local animal shelter recently. We were still reeling from the loss of Argento, but Mars seemed lonely, so we wanted to find a playmate for him. We spied a four-month-old kitten named Button, who was reaching her little paw out to us from between the wires of her cage. She was very playful and cuddly, which is exactly what we were looking for. I had read that female cats tend to be less affectionate than male cats, but our interaction at the shelter seemed to refute that.

So, several days later, we incorporated a new kitten into our lives, renaming her Ember. She came from the mean streets of Jackson, Wyoming (fun fact: Teton County, where Jackson is located, is one of the richest counties in the U.S. It is also one of the two Wyoming counties that went for Obama in 2008—the other being Albany county, which we live in). Her owner picked her from a shelter in Jackson, moved her to Laramie, and then decided that he or she couldn’t keep her. She’s a punk rock kitty: she has two tiny green dots tattooed in her left ear. Apparently, they do that in Teton County when their shelter animals are spayed or neutered.

After a few days of hissing and pouting (Mars), our two cats became the best of friends. So far, we’ve had really great luck with that, even though we never manage to follow the “rules” of introducing new cats (one cat always escapes and meets the intruder). Enough babbling. You want to see photos!

August 30, 2010

Giant Mushrooms and Dinosaurs

Posted in Look tagged , , , at 3:33 pm by onetinyacorn

While hiking in Vedauwoo, we found two mushrooms that were approximately the size of our heads. And two frogs which posed nicely in mute terror while we snapped away. The T Rex is a sculpture outside of the Geology Museum on campus. We always take visitors to see it.

August 14, 2010

Rainbows, Bunnies, and Fluffy Clouds

Posted in Look tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:04 pm by onetinyacorn

…and a taxidermied badger (dude wanted $125 for it). Suffice it to say, I am not the new owner of said badger.

Taken in Laramie, Fort Collins, and Denver.

August 3, 2010

Frontier Days + Denver

Posted in Look tagged , at 8:57 pm by onetinyacorn

September 21, 2009

Technically, It's Still Summer

Posted in Look tagged at 9:54 am by onetinyacorn

This is the scene that greeted me this morning:

September 21st in Wyoming

September 15, 2009

Wyoming Territorial Prison

Posted in Look tagged , , , at 1:38 pm by onetinyacorn

When people come to visit, there are a handful of things that I like to show them: the art museum, sculptures, Snowy Mountain range, Vedauwoo, and the Wyoming Territorial Prison. The prison was in use in the late 1800’s, and counted Butch Cassidy among its colorful inhabitants. The site includes the restored prison, which highlights the compelling stories about its prisoners, a broom factory where they worked, the warden’s house, and quite a bit more. My favorite areas are the exhibits about the female prisoners, and the working platen press. If you find yourself in Laramie, Wyoming, it’s definitely worth a visit.

August 12, 2009

The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

Posted in Look tagged , , , , , at 8:49 pm by onetinyacorn

For my 30th birthday, my husband took me on a fabulous week-long vacation to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We did tons of hiking, and saw moose, elk, mule deer, a grizzly bear cub, and many bison. We dined on sushi in Jackson, stopped in to a few art galleries, and camped a few feet away from a gorgeous lake. It was an incredible trip!

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